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JANUARY 2014 issue of
Rental Management

Events & Tents preview: Inspiring face-off

Events & Tents to feature tabletop design challenge

Editor’s note: In this first-of-its-kind Events & Tents Inspiration Challenge, held during the lunch at Event & Tents in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2014, two event designers and two challenge teams of Events & Tents attendees will compete to test their creativity and event design skills under pressure. Robin Brockelsby will serve as master of ceremonies as the two designers meet their teams and each create a tabletop design using the items provided — some useful, some not so much — in 30 minutes.

The moderator: Robin Brockelsby, Creative Coverings, Sparks, Nev.


RM: What are you looking forward to most about the Inspiration Challenge?

Robin Brockelsby: I’m so excited about the inspiration challenge. These are my favorite types of events to moderate. Not only is it going to be an exciting event for the attendees, the designers and myself, we are all going to have a huge opportunity to learn from some of the country’s best event designers. Kelly and David are amazing at their craft and, between us, we will bring a few lifetimes of design and event experience to Events & Tents.

RM: What do you want everyone to walk away with at Events & Tents?

Brockelsby: Passion and excitement is what drives businesses to succeed, so my goal is to help everyone who joins me at Events & Tents renew their passions, and go home excited and ready to kick off 2014. We are going to have a great time exploring all the ways to become trend leaders in the rental industry.

The challengers:

David Halsey

David Halsey is the creative director for The Meetinghouse Companies, Elmhurst, Ill. “I worked as a freelance designer for several years and one of the places I worked was Meetinghouse. When a full-time position opened up with Meetinghouse, I jumped at the opportunity and I have now been there for nearly 10 years,” Halsey says.

RM: What is your favorite type of event to design or work on?

Halsey: Galas and fundraisers are my favorite events to work on. Although they may not have a huge budget, they are always looking to impress the attendees and show them something new. This challenges my creativity and causes me to push the envelope to develop new and exciting designs.

RM: How did you handle a recent challenge?

Halsey: At a recent wedding, the bride had been adamant that she did not want to do a bouquet toss. She just did not like the whole idea of it. At the end of the ceremony the minister asked everyone to gather on the church stairs and for all of the single ladies to line up for the bouquet toss. I saw the look of panic on the bride’s face. First of all, she did not want to do this, but second of all, there was no toss bouquet. As the guests filed out of the church, I discreetly gathered the flowers that had decorated the ends of the pews, tied them together with a scrap of ribbon and passed it to her as she exited the church. She tossed the bouquet and no one was the wiser. I think for any event you have to be prepared for anything, be able to think on your feet, not panic, and improvise. You — and maybe the bride — will be the only one that knows.

RM: What are you most looking forward to in the Inspiration Challenge?

Halsey: Having fun. I think this will be a great learning opportunity for everyone, myself included.

RM: Is there anything you want to say to your challenger?

Halsey: I love and respect you, Kelly Murphy, and we have known each other for a very long time, but you are goin’ down.


Kelly Murphy

Kelly Murphy founded Panache with her husband, Bob, in 1992. “I was frustrated by the limitation of specialty tabletop and equipment when I was producing culinary events. I convinced my husband that this would be fun to do ‘on the weekends.’ Our company was acquired in 2007 by Classic Party Rentals. My husband chose to retire and I stayed on to manage the business. A couple of years ago, I transitioned to director of business development, which allows me more interaction with our clients and developing revenue opportunities by way of market segments and product development.”

RM: What is your favorite type of event to design or work on?

Murphy: I find myself more involved in culinary inspired events because of my background in hospitality. I love looking for unique ways to serve and present food. Whether it is the actual vessel it is served on or the setup of guest experience.

RM: How did you handle a recent challenge?

Murphy: We recently completed a couple of large sit-down events for 1,800 people a week apart that had moving dates influenced by a timeline that kept getting pushed back. The events finally began eight weeks after the original date. The challenge was reserving that quantity of equipment against the conflicts of entering into our busiest time of the year with events that were already in place. When the dates were finally confirmed, we had less than one week to coordinate. Constant updating and communication with our team and the client was critical. In the end it was a success and our sister stores and vendors were very supportive in helping us as our needs evolved.

RM: What are you most looking forward to in the Inspiration Challenge?

Murphy: I enjoy the challenge of creating solutions on the spot. Some of my best events have happened on the fly. The adrenaline and creativity kicking in simultaneously is a rush. My hero is “MacGyver.”

RM: Is there anything you want to say to your challenger?

Murphy: Bring it on.




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